Trump Denounces

Activists of the Difa-e-Pakistan Council shout anti-U.S. slogans at a protest in Karachi Jan. 2, 2018. Pakistan has summoned the U.S. ambassador, an embassy spokesman said Jan. 2, in a rare public rebuke after Donald Trump lashed out at Islamabad with threats to cut aid over ‘lies’ about militancy. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump began the New Year Jan. 1 with a stinging attack on long-standing ally Pakistan, saying it will get no more U.S. aid as it was giving “safe haven to terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan.”

“The U.S. has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” Trump tweeted in his strongest denunciation of Islamabad. 

“They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!” he added.

Trump's announcement follows an increasingly tense back-and-forth between Washington and Islamabad after the U.S. president unveiled his administration's National Security Strategy.

He had then reminded Pakistan that it was obligated to help the U.S. because it receives "massive payments" from Washington annually.

“We have made it clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory,” Trump said. “They have to help.”

Afghanistan and India also accuse Pakistan of harboring terrorists who launch attacks against the two countries. Islamabad routinely denies such charges.

The Associated Press adds that Pakistan had no official comment but Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted that his government was preparing a response that “will let the world know the truth.”

Pakistan’s Urdu language Geo Television quoted Asif as saying: “We have already said ‘no more’ to America, so Trump’s ‘no more’ has no importance. We are ready to give all account for every single penny to America in public.”

Asif said Trump’s tweet was borne out of frustration and that the U.S. should pursue dialogue with Afghanistan’s insurgents rather than military force.

“America is frustrated over defeat in Afghanistan. America should take the path of dialogue instead of using military might in Afghanistan,” Asif was quoted as saying.

The Afghan Ambassador to the U.S. Hamdullah Mohib welcomed Trump’s tweet.

“A promising message to Afghans who have suffered at the hands of terrorists based in Pakistan for far too long,” Mohib tweeted.

The uneasy relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been on a downward spiral since the 2011 U.S. operation that located and killed Osama bin Laden in the military garrison town of Abbottabad.

Trump ratcheted up the pressure last year when he announced his Afghan strategy that called out Pakistan for harboring Afghan Taliban insurgents warning it would have to end.

In August, the United States said it would hold up $255 million in military assistance for Pakistan until it cracks down on extremists threatening Afghanistan. On Jan. 1, the Trump administration’s National Security Council said that was still the plan although the U.S. would continue to reassess the situation.

“The president has made clear that the United States expects Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorists and militants on its soil, and that Pakistan’s actions in support of the South Asia Strategy will ultimately determine the trajectory of our relationship, including future security assistance,” according to the U.S. statement.

Vice President Mike Pence in a surprise visit to Afghanistan Dec. 22 said the U.S. administration was putting Pakistan on notice to end its support for Taliban insurgents, a comment that generated a chorus of criticism from the Pakistani civilian and military establishment, which has denied harboring Afghan militants.

In a news conference Dec. 28, 2017, the Pakistani military spokesman, Gen. Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan wouldn’t bow to coercion.

“What kind of friends are we that we are being given notices?” he asked at the news conference.

Much of the money Pakistan has received from the U.S. has been through its Coalition Support Funds, which give money to its coalition partners in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan has been one of the largest recipients.

Ghafoor denied that Pakistan allowed training camps or organizational headquarters in its territory.

“We have started the construction of forts and posts on the Afghan border for effective border management — what more does the U.S. and Afghanistan want from us?” Ghafoor was quoted by the English-language Dawn newspaper as saying at the news conference.

Yet Afghanistan and the U.S. have long accused Pakistan of providing safe havens and Pakistan’s former adviser on foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz had previously publicly stated that Afghan militants have been living for decades in Pakistan.

The Taliban is believed to run several leadership councils out of Pakistan, in southwestern Quetta and northwestern Peshawar, two cities on the border with Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has accused Afghanistan of harboring its militants and has sent a list of wanted terrorist to the Afghan government demanding they be returned. Kabul has also sent a list of wanted insurgents to Islamabad as well as locations of training camps.

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